India has given birth to a variety
of saints and Godmen. People who have achieved salvation through the paths
of prayer, action and duty - bhakti, karma and dharma. Swami Vivekananda,
was also a saint. With one major difference. He worked towards the upliftment
of his people, and not just towards his own salvation. He was a ' Karmayogi'
in the true sense of the word.
Birth of A Saint
Born in Calcutta, on January 12th, 1863 to Vishwanatha Datta and Bhuvaneshwari, young Narendranath (which he was originally called) was extremely devoted to God. He was also extremely attached to his mother, who had a profound influence on his life. She used to tell him mythological stories, which he loved to hear. He often said that it was his mother who had been the constant inspiration of his work and life.
He graduated from Christian College,
Calcutta. The Principal, Mr. Hastie, was known to have remarked "Narendranath
is really a genius. I have traveled far and wide, but I have never come
across a lad of his talents and possibilities, even in German Universities
among philosophical students. He is bound to make his mark in life".
His interests ranged from sports and music to wrestling, philosophy and
poetry. He loved reading Shelley, Wordsworth, Herbert Spencer and John
Meeting With Ramakrishna Parmahansa
Narendra was not interested in worldly pleasures or acquiring possessions. He was looking for something beyond worldly pleasures. His life changed on meeting Sri Ramakrishna, by whose thoughts he was very impressed.
The second meeting was even more
stimulating, as when Sri Ramakrishna touched Narendra with his foot, he
was blessed with a divine experience that made him renounce the world and
become Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna's disciple
His Mission and Work
Swami Vivekananda traveled the length and breadth of the country, spreading His master's message. His path did not include religious superstitions and rituals, but strived towards a 'region beyond reason'
In September 1893, Swami Vivekananda participated in 'Parliament of Religions' held in Chicago, U.S.A. He spoke on the Hindu religion and left his audience spellbound. After this, he spread his master's message in Switzerland and England, and had a great following abroad. One of his most famous disciples was Margaret Noble, who later assumed the name of Sister Nivedita.
Swami Vivekananda wrote several letters
expressing his social, religious and spiritual views. His book 'Raja Yoga'
is famous till today. This great exponent of the Vedanta strove to
uplift the masses out of their misery. He believed that the neglect of
the masses led to the downfall of the nation, and so injected his country
with his infectious vitality. Swami Vivekananda also established two monasteries
in the name of Sri Ramakrishna. One at Baranagar and the other at Belur,
near Calcutta. Till today his work is carried out in these Missions.
The Sad Demise
Long hours and diabetes won out in
the end, and the great Swami passed into the beyond on July 4th, 1902 at
his monastery in Belur. But his name and his teachings, as well as that
of his master lives on in the hearts and the minds of the masses.
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